Texas Observer Saved After GoFundMe Raises $300,000 for the Austin-Based Magazine

The 68-year-old liberal publication was set to shut down after its parent organization voted to lay off the entire staff and cease operations

Texas Observer staff
Texas Observer staff (Courtesy of Texas Observer)

The Texas Observer, which only days ago faced certain death after its parent organization voted to shut down the liberal investigative magazine after 68 years, will live on thanks to a GoFundMe that raised more than $300,000 in three days.

“This is wonderful news,” editor-in-chief Gabriel Arana said. “The Observer is indispensable to Texas and to democracy.” The publication was founded in 1954.

The board of the Texas Democracy Foundation, which owns the Observer, said they have secured short-term pledges to bridge an immediate budget shortfall, “thanks to the extraordinary success of the staff’s fundraising this week.”

The layoffs and shutdown were announced on Monday, with many staffers finding about the decision the night before from the Texas Tribune.

“I just got chills,” said Gayle Reaves, the Observer’s editor-at-large, about the board’s decision to rescind the shutdown. “I can’t tell you how proud I am of our incredible supporters and my colleagues and the board members who helped us.”

The Texas Observer was founded in Austin in 1954, by by Frankie Randolph and Dugger, and was created to cover topics often ignored by daily newspapers in the state, particularly those affecting marginalized communities. In the 1970s, the publication was co-edited by Molly Ivins, who also served as a political reporter for the Observer.

“We seek not only to inform, but to empower our readers, as we work to hold public officials and corporations accountable,” the site says. “Our reporters recognize that oppressed people are experts on their own lives and trust their expertise.”